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Aviat Space Environ Med. 1977 Aug;48(8):722-30.

Altitude decompression sickness: hyperbaric therapy results in 145 cases.


Most cases of decompression sickness that occur at altitude resolve upon descent to lower altitudes. Before the use of hyperbaric therapy, cases that did not resolve accounted for some of the most difficult medical management problems in military aerospace medicine. On 27 March, 1941, the U.S. Navy Diving School successfully used hyperbaric therapy for a case of altitude-induced decompression sickness that did not resolve on return to ground level. Since then, over 145 such cases have been treated by hyperbaric therapy. At first, treatments involved using compressed air, with varying success. Current medical management of altitude-induced decompression sickness requires immediate compression to 2.8 ATA, equivalent to 60 ft of sea water (FSW) pressure, and a series of intermittent oxygen and air breathing periods during the subsequent slow decompression to surface. This report confirms the treatment recommendations set forth by Behnke and Downey, and crystallized by Goodman in 1964. Conclusions are based on treatment experience in the management of 120 cases in U.S. Air Force hyperbaric chambers, and a survey of hyperbaric facilities which have treated 25 other cases.

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